The Play's the Thing: A Theory of Taxing Virgual Worlds

Research output: Other contribution


Taxation is shadow life. As our culture monetizes more and more life activities, the shadow grows. This article looks at the potential tax issues arising from a new life activity: online role-playing games in virtual worlds. Currently, some 12 million people regularly play such games and the number is growing. Exploring the reach of the Tax Code into virtual world transactions not only responds to the potentially practical needs of millions of U.S. taxpayers, it also permits a reevaluation of core principles of income tax as they interplay with life activities in the context of 21st century American culture. <br><br>This article's central thesis is that while player activity in virtual worlds produces measurable economic value to the player, player activity that occurs solely within the online virtual world is not gross income under the law. The article argues for a "cash out" rule. Players whose added wealth consists solely in what are defined as "units of play" should not b
Original languageEnglish
PublisherHastings Law Journal
StatePublished - Nov 2007


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